While we waited for the planning permission deadline to arrive, we turned our attention to the parts of the house that were exempt from this process. Basically, that meant the garden.
Rob has been with us from the very start, and is great at finding people who can help us put our house back together. One of the biggest things we have learnt since buying our Pile of Rubble is to stay local. Local builders know the area, have accounts with local building merchants, and can sort anything out over a few beers in the local pub.
Our first task was to build a fence at the end of the garden.
Rob had a friend who he thought might be able to help, and asked him round to quote. His friend is the equally lovely Tom, He came to quote for a fence, which took Tom and Rob one week to build in February, and he has stayed with us ever since. Tom has become an integral member of our team, and the fence looks great.
The next task was to design the garden. We decided not to go for the concrete jungle look, and set about a very technical garden design plan, armed with a pencil, a tape measure, a scrap of paper, a few beers, Tom and Rob.
We decided to split the concrete jungle in half. In the righthand side we needed a shed, and a summer house, on the left grass and a gazebo.
The Tall One set about checking Gumtree for a shed, a summer house and a solution to our grass issue. Basically we don’t have any, and don’t want to take up the concrete.
Now, how difficult do you think it is to find a shed? A trip to B&Q should be all it takes. We just couldn’t find a shed we liked. The summer house was proving equally as difficult to find. If you want to spend a fortune on a shed and a summer house, its easy. For us this wasn’t an option. So the Tall One set out on a mission to find the best shed and summer house, we could buy on a very small budget. After extensive internet research Argos came to our rescue. They were quick, efficient and delivered exactly when they said they would with no extra delivery charge to us even though we are on an Island! Very impressive.
Tom and Rob took delivery of our new flat pack items, and set about reading the instructions. Around this time it became clear that we needed a few more members of our team if we stood any chance of finishing our Pile of Rubble this year. Tom knew a few local lads who he had worked with before. We still needed walls putting up, walls taking down, ceilings installed, bathrooms tiled, garden shed built, summer house built and then painted, fence built around the whole garden, which would then also need painting, rubbish cleared, parking area levelled and concreted and we STILL had wood chip to remove so Finlay and Cameron joined us. We were now complete. Four lads, Two Women and One pile of Rubble and a puppy called Copper! (not ours, Toms’ new Beagle). All we needed was the rain to stop so we could start to build the shed and summer house.
The Tall One had purchased a job lot of bathroom tiles on Gumtree, along with some flooring. The Short One convinced her son that he would love to load up his beast of a car and spend a few days on the IOW in order to deliver these items to our Pile of Rubble. A short trip was planned, and The Short One and youngest son went on a mini adventure. This obviously involved putting him to work……..
The Tall One joined us after a few days, and The Short Ones son returned to the mainland. Part of the garden project involved replacing the steps leading from the garden to the first floor. Tom arranged for Pat to come and give us a quote and a few days later he started work on site. After two days of sunshine the newest part of our Pile of Rubble were complete.
We were very excited by this development, as these provide access to what will eventually become our Gin/Vodka drinking area. We may not have running water, a kitchen or a bathroom, but we do have new steps to our drinking platform.
With Easter fast approaching, we decided to spend the longest time so far in our Pile of Rubble. Well not actually in it, With our relatives in Niton, but for us it was the closest we had Come so far to actually being there everyday. If you have ever spent anytime with us, you will already know how much we like tea and cake. The thought of spending 12 full days in our Pile of Rubble, without tea and cake was almost unbearable. Luckily for us we had managed to buy a Pile of Rubble seconds away from the most amazing Tea House. Not only do they serve tea, they also make the best Gluten Free cakes we have tasted to date, and we have researched a lot of cake!
The Tall One likes the Carrot Cake, and The Short One likes the Turkish Delight Cake. However this cake is very popular. If you find yourself in Ventnor head to The Tea House, and if they have it, buy it, as it sells out very quickly. The next best option is the Bread pudding. We very rarely managed to find anywhere that serves Gluten Free bread, so to get Gluten Free bread pudding is brilliant. It also tastes amazing, which is a bonus. Thankfully they don’t only serve cake. Breakfast is always good, and luckily for us the specials change regularly, we have yet to make it all the way through the lunch menu. Seeing as we don’t yet have a kitchen we intend to give it a good go over the next few months.
The sun decided to make a very rare appearance during the 12 days in our Pile of Rubble, and so work shifted back out to the garden. Tom, Rob, Finlay and Cameron had already built the shed, and so the next task was to build the summer house. At first glance a flat pack summer house looks like an easy task, however we had managed to find one with a curved roof, and angled sides.
Between them, Tom, Rob and Cameron managed to work it out, and within a few days the summer house was completed. Our next task was to paint it. Cameron, Finlay and the Tall One managed to get three coats of wood stain on the summer house before rain stopped play, whilst the Short One finished painting the inside of the front porch. Up until this point it had matched the back of the house, but the battleship grey had to go.
Our main criteria when we first started looking for our Pile of Rubble was to be within walking distance of pub. The Shorter One had spent a large part of her childhood as a publicans daughter, and for both of us having a good local pub within walking distance was essential. After our first viewing, and before we put in the offer for our Pile of Rubble, we had walked to the pub a few hundred yards along the road and over a Lime and Soda, as we had to drive home, we discussed the potential issues we would face if we bought our Pile of Rubble. It is also one of the best places to plan the work schedule with Tom and Rob. During our 12 day stay near our Pile of Rubble we noticed our new local ran a quiz night. Now we are the last people you would want to have on your quiz team, we can sing all the words in the music round, but can’t name the artists, and any useful facts we may one have stored in our brains, have been replaced by our new found love of the Screw Fix catalogue. Somehow we managed to convince a family member and her thankfully knowledable friend to spend a night drinking wine with us and taking part in the quiz. Whilst we may not know all the answers we are very competitive, and armed with the promise of chocolate for the team that wins each round we somehow managed to come 5th out of 15 teams and won some chocolate, for us a good result.
With our Pile of Rubble slowly taking shape, and chocolate won at the pub quiz, we started to plan the next phase………….